On writing prompts – Hysteria writing prompts for July

poetry book image

Don’t forget the 2020 competition… the deadline is approaching. If you haven’t already written something to submit, there is still time to do so.

For my inspiration this month I’m going to share some ways of playing with words to create writing prompts that make some poetry, stories or just get you started on writing some ideas down – you can always come back to them and see how they develop.

Found poetry is an easy starting off point.

Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them (a literary equivalent of a collage) by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, and coming up with a whole new piece of your own. You might spot something in a book, magazine or newspaper which stands out for you and use it to make this kind of poem.

Here’s one from me, about Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

He looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, ‘She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.’

He looked
for a moment
at Elizabeth,
She is tolerable –
coldly catching
her eye
for a moment
not handsome enough
withdrew in case
he was tempted,
She is tolerable he said
but not enough to tempt me

Eithne Cullen

A Cento

A cento is a poem (cento means patchwork) made up from the lines of another poet’s work. You pick lines from another poem and manipulate them till they are your own: but you must acknowledge the poet’s work.  I wrote this cento using some lines from John Betjeman and Ted Hughes.

And Cento

Sand in the sandwiches wasps in the tea,
squelch of the bladder wrack waiting for the sea,
waves full of treasure were roaring up the beach,
we waited for the wreckage to come swirling into reach.

In and out of silvery dissolution
brown water backing and brimming in grass.

I used to know, I used to know you –
now, what change your waters show you.

Eithne Cullen 2017

Random pages

Another fairly common starter is to open a book at random, say page 49 and count down a number of lines, say 3… pick out the words and phrases that you find and use them as the starting point for a poem. I’ve just done this and found “scattering pigeons…beggars…swinging so hard…” I might be able to work on those words.

Take it further and look at some on those words in an online rhyming dictionary: you’ll get even more ideas. I did this recently for the word “visit” and came up with visit…illicit, implicit, fizzle, vivid, given. These are certainly enough to give me some ideas.

My regular writing group Write next Door (we have a Facebook Page) sets writing tasks using prompts. We can respond to them however we choose. Here are this month’s (with thanks to the group for sharing):

What if someone asked me what I was carrying?

So many people gathered on this hot, Spring day…

Please use at least three of the following words and phrases in a short story or poem: Eggshells, bicycle, bus ride home, what if, book, burn, stretches, invite, mattress, beckon, dangerous, slab, strands of sunlight, lifeless, package, paper, fragments

There is usually enough there to give me some idea for a story or poem. One of our regular writers produces Boy’s Own style adventure stories. Sometimes he proudly announces that he’s used all the words form the word list. That’s quite some crafting!

I have recently come across another type of writing workshop and found it really productive. It’s called Love Letters to the World (with a Facebook page, too). In this workshop participants shared sentences they’d written and each “donated” a random word.  Using the words and phrases, participants were given time to write, then moved onto another exercise, in this case given some place names and the line Belonging means

So, using some of the words and phrases shared blossoms, light, still on the line, meringue, imagination, bustle… I came up with:

Belonging means
watching the light
still on the line,
blossoms bursting forth
like the meringue of
my imagination,
where sunflowers
sit in earth sharing
friendship

So you see, there are plenty of ways you can interact with and play around with to make poetry which is pleasing and very much your own. The possibilities are endless.

Happy writing.

Remember to get your competition entries in!

Eithne x

(Image by Thought Catalog from Pixabay)

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